As an American expat living in France, I’m often asked questions regarding transportation, driver’s licenses, etc. Here are a few t
houghts on such matters:
First off, if you plan on moving permanently to France, you will eventually have to apply for a French driver’s license. You have a period of one year before it is required that you have a French-issued license to drive here. The driver’s licenses of some U.S. states can be exchanged for French licenses without further efforts. The licenses of other states unfortunately can’t be exchanged. You’ll have to go
through the driver’s education thing all over again. In other words, you’ll need to study up and take written and performance tests to get a license. Last I heard, New York State licenses couldn’t be exchanged. Sorry, New Yorkers.
French driving regulations can differ from those of many United States regions. For example, speed limits in France tend to vary based on weather conditions. Accordingly, even if you don’t need to take a driver’s test, you’ll want to make yourself familiar with the local traffic laws. This is particularly true because the monetary penalties for speeding can be pretty steep, and the police have authority to confiscate your car if you can’t or won’t pay the fine. The DUI laws here are also relatively tough, so you definitely don’t want to mess around with that.
If you find yourself without a license to drive, don’t despair. France has a pretty good public transportation system. Transportation between French cities and towns can be relatively reasonably priced, especially if you have some time on your hands and you don’t mind taking a slower-speed train.
If neither car nor bus nor train is available, you can always consider traveling via bicycle. It’s a great cardio workout and the perfect way to see the amazing French countryside. There’s a reason cycling is so popular in this country. It’s a beautiful place to ride a bike.
If you don’t have a bicycle, well, you can always walk. There are many hiking paths throughout the country. The urban walks are equally enjoyable. Slow down, take your time and soak in the atmosphere of France.